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PPM proposes anti-defection law to penalise floor crossing

The ruling party has proposed an anti-defection law to penalise floor crossing and strip lawmakers of their seats for switching parties. 



The ruling party has proposed an anti-defection law to penalise floor crossing by stripping lawmakers of their seats.

MP Ahmed Nihan, the parliamentary group leader of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives, submitted the bill on Monday. The draft legislation also specifies rules for holding by-elections for vacated seats.

Without revealing details, Nihan also tweeted that PPM MP Abdul Raheem Abdulla has proposed adding a provision to the criteria for appointing judges. The amendment proposed to the 2010 Judges Act will be made public after its introduction to the parliament floor.

With opposition lawmakers boycotting parliament amid the ongoing state of emergency, the ruling coalition presently lacks the constitutional quorum needed to pass laws. More than half the 85-member house must be present for voting on “any matter requiring compliance by citizens”.

President Abdulla Yameen declared the state of emergency after the Supreme Court unanimously ordered the release of nine prisoners and the reinstatement of 12 opposition MPs.

The dozen ex-PPM MPs were contentiously disqualified last year after the Supreme Court ruled that MPs elected on political party tickets would lose their seat if they left their party, got expelled, or switched parties.

The attorney general sought the anti-defection ruling on the day the opposition coalition secured a clear majority for the first time and tried to impeach the parliament speaker. But the removal of MPs who crossed over to the opposition was used to quash the no-confidence motion and restore a smaller pro-government majority.

In its landmark February 1 order, the Supreme Court had cited parliament’s failure to enact a new law dealing with floor crossing for the court’s decision to overturn its anti-defection ruling.

Following the arrest of Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and Justice Ali Hameed on charges of plotting a coup, the three remaining justices have delayed the reinstatement of the lawmakers and soldiers have blocked them from entering the house of parliament.